Call to celebrate success of inspirational female engineers

Paul Boughton

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is calling on successful young female engineers to enter its Young Women Engineer of the Year Awards and demonstrate to young girls that engineering is a diverse and exciting industry offering creative and challenging careers.

Finding and celebrating the success of inspirational female role models is vital given that the UK currently has the lowest proportion of female engineering professionals in Europe at 6%*, compared with Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus with 30%. A recent survey with parents of children aged 9-12 carried out by the IET also found that only 7% of parents would encourage their daughters to become engineers.

If the lack of women in engineering continues, the UK will be in a significantly weakened position to find the 1.82 million people with engineering skills that employers are projected to need from 2012 - 2022, according to Engineering UK.

The 2015 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards are all about raising the profile of today’s most impressive female engineers, celebrating their successes, and encouraging them to become role models to inspire the next generation of female engineers and help address the gender imbalance in engineering and science.

Former winners of the awards include Naomi Mitchison, a senior hardware engineer at Selex ES, Abbie Hutty, a spacecraft engineer currently working on Europe’s first Rover Mission to Mars and Yewande Akinola, an environmental services engineer with a passion for innovation and sustainable water supply.

IET President-elect, Naomi Climer, said: “Engineering is a hugely exciting and diverse career with the opportunity to do something life- or world-changing. The Young Women Engineer of the Year awards, which have been running for 39 years, are all about finding role models to get girls – and young people in general - excited about the possibilities of an engineering career.”

Current IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year, Naomi Mitchison, said: “I chose engineering because having done Maths and Physics at school it seemed like an interesting way to put those subjects to good use, while doing something a bit unusual and different.

“The great thing about winning the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year award was that it made me realise that the work I do promoting engineering gives me the opportunity to be a role model. I don’t think you wake up one day and decide to be a role model, you just realise that standing up and speaking in front of student, parents and teachers means you are seen as such, and that’s an important realisation.”

The deadline for entry to the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards is 30 June 2015.

* IET Skills and Demand in Industry Survey, 2014